Trump’s erratic presidency is a manifestation, not the cause, of democratic decay. The unfolding political crisis will outlast him. So must the resistance.
It’s been a year since Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America — and we’re already exhausted. Exhausted by the endless stream of sexist and racist bigotry pouring out of his hideous face and Twitter feed. Exhausted by the rapid succession of 24-hour scandals, one outrage sweeping another from the headlines before the immensity of the previous one has even begun to properly sink in.
Exhausted by the immature personal grudges and individual fallings-out that are constantly played out in public amidst the gratuitous threats of nuclear annihilation. Exhausted by the gas-lighting narcissism, the power-hungry egotism and the self-aggrandizing vanity of a multi-billionaire businessman who has never known anything but public adulation for his inherited wealth. Exhausted, frankly, by the very realization — recurring on a daily basis — that this man-child’s maniacal delusions have actually been confirmed, insofar as he himself is concerned, by his election to the most powerful office in the world.
Nevertheless, amidst the storm of chaos that Donald Trump has unleashed upon the world, it becomes ever more necessary to take some distance from the headlines and reflect upon the broader meaning of the past year in American and global politics. For me personally, three observations stand out.
1) THE LIMITS OF TRUMP’S “DECLARATIVE POLITICS”
When Trump was first elected, many warned of his authoritarian ambitions and the threat of incipient fascism in America. In left-liberal circles, in particular, comparisons to Hitler and Mussolini were rife. There was always some merit to these concerns, as white supremacists clearly felt emboldened by Trump’s “America first” rhetoric, and the brazen response of various alt-right and neo-Nazi groups has had far-reaching, even lethal consequences. But if his first year in office has confirmed anything, it is that Trump — while certainly a vile and dangerous racist who revels in hate speech against historically oppressed groups — was always far more interested in promoting himself than in a disciplined ideological commitment to a cause external to his own self-advancement.
In fact, what stands out is Trump’s almost utter incapacity to move beyond what I call a narrow declarative politics — a superficial form of national-populism that panders to prevalent xenophobic and anti-establishment sentiment but relies almost entirely on discursive interventions, while making little systematic attempt to transform electoral promises or everyday bluster into tangible policy outcomes or new power configurations. In saying this, I certainly do not mean to downplay the material consequences of Trump’s reactionary rhetoric or the disastrous policies he did manage to push through over the past year. But the fact that the president celebrated the first anniversary of his tenure amidst a government shutdown, even as his party controls both houses, is indicative of the isolated and relatively powerless position in which he finds himself.
On the election trail, Trump repeatedly promised to “drain the swamp” and rid Washington of “special interests.” His erstwhile chief strategist, the now-estranged Steve Bannon, even vowed to “deconstruct the administrative state.” Instead of presenting a rupture with the status quo, however, Trump has actually presided over its radicalization. Behind the scenes, the real power center in his administration continues to lie with Wall Street and Big Oil — just as it did under previous Republican and Democratic presidents. Far from descending into national-socialism, the United States remains governed by the same belligerent billionaire class that thrived under Reagan, Clinton, the Bushes and Obama —always pursuing further tax cuts and financial deregulation.
This is not to say that nothing has changed. As I argued after the elections, Trump’s victory speaks to a profound legitimation crisis of the neoliberal establishment, and to a broader incapacity of the United States to reproduce its hegemonic role in the liberal world order it created in the wake of World War II. Domestically, the elite consensus that cemented the politics of both major parties over the past four decades — especially around the issue of trade liberalization — is under severe attack from within, and internationally US power is clearly on the wane. Trump represents a desperate attempt to reverse the latter process by shattering the former consensus: countering America’s decline by reasserting control over its national borders and replacing the liberal internationalism of the Clintons and Obamas with a new white nationalism.
Clearly, the consequences of this reversal have been most keenly felt by migrants, who rightly fear being deported by the new administration. Yet, without defending Trump, it is important to point out that US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers actually deported fewer people in 2017 than they did under Obama in 2016. So far, the domestic political implications of Trump’s “populist” earthquake have therefore been more limited than is generally acknowledged. It is mostly Trump’s declarations — his impulsive tweets and offensive statements — that defy the established liberal order; when it comes to the material constitution of US politics, the center still holds.
2) THE COMPLICITY OF THE LIBERAL #RESISTANCE
This brings me to the second and closely related observation: the extent to which the shallow “resistance” of the liberal establishment has actually played into the hands of the far right. Just as Trump’s defiance operates mostly at the discursive level, so the Democratic Party leadership has done little to move beyond superficial declarations of indignation. When it comes to actual policy measures, leading Democrats have repeatedly enabled the Republicans to pursue their reactionary agenda — most recently voting along with their GOP counterparts to further extend the president’s vast surveillance authority. As Glenn Greenwald astutely pointed out in The Intercept, “the same Democrats who denounce Trump as a lawless treasonous authoritarian just voted to give him vast warrantless spying powers.” So much for the #resistance.
Moreover, by focusing almost all of their attention on Trump as a person, wilfully overlooking their own responsibility for shaping the systemic political and economic conditions that brought him to power, centrist Democrats have entirely missed the bigger story: the fact that no one really trusts them anymore to solve the country’s most pressing problems. As I noted right after the elections, Trump did not win because he was popular — Hillary lost because she was extremely unpopular. What has been most astonishing over the past year has been the Democrats’ outright refusal to recognize this most basic fact. Instead of looking inwards for answers and assuming part of the blame for Trump’s rise to power, the best they could come up with was to reinvent a set of Cold War scare stories about Russian interference in US political life.
Interestingly, the liberal opposition has thereby chosen to operate its #resistance strategy almost entirely on the terrain of right-wing politics, using the president’s “national treason” and “mental incompetence ”— rather than his overt sexism, racism and classism — as the primary prongs in their attempt to push him from office. By drawing the battle lines this way, the Democratic establishment is already shaping the terms of debate for the post-Trump era: instead of laying the groundwork for a wider assault on patriarchy, white supremacy and the concentrated power of the billionaire class, the liberal elite aims to present Trump as a mere aberration within a broader legal and political framework of otherwise fair, sound and functional political institutions.
The liberal media, for its part, has been happy to play along with this game. Once identified by Steve Bannon as the authentic “opposition party,” major centrist broadcasters and newspapers like CNN and the New York Times are certainly trying their best to discredit the president — but their obsessive preoccupation with his personal life and his outrageous public statements belies a similar short attention span as Trump’s. The media’s constantly renewed sense of indignation is simply being absorbed into the giant spectacle that Trump himself continues to feed; the media simply responds, always on the back foot, to the latest Twitter outrage. Almost every other day a new scandal hits the headlines — in the past two weeks alone we have gone from “a bigger nuclear button” to allegations of advanced dementia, from “shithole countries” to hush money for porn stars — but none of these stories seem to stick for longer than 48 hours before the media collectively piles in on the next big distraction.
The result is that Trump and his liberal opposition end up holding each other up in perfect suspension — both effectively paralyzed by the inflexible and increasingly ossified institutions of representative democracy, and both exceedingly frustrated by their relative impotence and failure to advance in their stated objectives. It is always Groundhog Day at the White House. Stuck in a political deadlock of sorts, it is precisely the relative powerlessness of the president and his liberal opposition that perpetuates the overwhelming sense of crisis. The same mutual “impotence” will also make for a particularly dangerous situation in the years ahead— for despite the institutional stalemate in which he finds himself, Trump still has that “bigger nuclear button” on his desk.
3) THE ENDURING NATURE OF THE POLITICAL CRISIS
This finally brings me to the third observation, which is that Trump is not the cause but a consequence of the broader democratic crisis in which American politics—and, indeed, politics around the world—currently finds itself. Surely his presidency will accelerate and intensify the contradictions at work here, but the roots of the present calamity run much deeper and will outlast the sitting president by years, if not decades. Trump, in short, is not just a dysfunctional aberration within an otherwise functional political order, nor does he alone constitute an existential threat to the survival of American democracy. Rather, he is a morbid symptom of a system entering into an advanced state of decay.
It follows that the opposition to the president and his reactionary brand of far-right national populism cannot limit itself to the same level of declarative politics at which Trump himself operates. The shallow #resistance rhetoric of the centrist Democratic establishment will prove wholly incapable of redressing the broader systemic crisis. Even if Trump is unseated from office, either through impeachment or in the 2020 elections, the same popular discontents that brought him to power will continue to fester and eat away at the perceived legitimacy of the old political elites and representative institutions. To respond convincingly to these dynamics of democratic decay will require a degree of social, political and economic transformation that no mainstream politician in the country is willing to publicly countenance at this point.
The left, for its part, if it ever gains power, will encounter many of the same challenges and limitations that Trump and his white-nationalist minions are currently running in to: from a hostile media and entrenched party bureaucracy to inflated popular expectations and the rigor mortis of existing institutions. Moving from a politics of opposition to a real movement that can withstand the counter-attacks of capital, the far right and the neoliberal establishment to abolish the present state of things will require a level of political organization and strategic thinking on a scale far beyond anything currently found on the left—even among the well-intentioned camp of Bernie Sanders supporters.
There are therefore important lessons to be drawn from the experience of the past year. The declarative politics of left-populism, with its emphasis on discourse and its grand promises of a reinvigorated social-democratic politics, will likely falter in the absence of a broader campaign to rebuild popular power from below. Socialism, even in its innocent Nordic garden variety, cannot simply be declared into existence after wresting the decaying institutions of liberal democracy from Trump’s tiny hands. To chart an emancipatory way out of the current standoff between the authoritarian neoliberal establishment and an authoritarian nationalist president will require a much more extensive commitment towards mobilizing popular mass movements, countering political fragmentation and instituting new forms of radical democracy from below.
I contend that the crisis we are living through is of a general and structural nature. The social, political and economic institutions that underpinned the postwar world order, enabling the triumph of global capitalism and the consolidation of liberal democracy, are now in a process of decomposition. It would be very dangerous to reduce these world-historical developments to the inanities of a single person, no matter how vile or threatening they may be. Trump’s erratic presidency is a manifestation, not the cause, of the wider democratic decay that has accompanied the neoliberal turn of the past four decades. The unfolding political crisis will outlast him. So must the resistance.
Un numero crescente di abitanti di Detroit, escusi dalla digitalizzazione, hanno avviato un movimento di base per costruirsi internet da soli. Il Detroit Community Technology Project e' una coalizione di membri della comunità e di diverse realtà no-profit. Hanno iniziato coprendo tre quartieri scarsamente serviti, installando internet ad alta velocità che trasmette connessioni condivise da un'antenna posta in cima all'edificio più alto della strada e dentro le case di persone che se ne erano andate da molto tempo. Hanno chiamato il progetto “Equitable Internet Initiative”.Il 40% degli abitanti di detroit non ha nessun accesso a internet.
Spesso si pensa che ad essere bloccati senza un accesso ad internet siano solo gli abitanti dell'America rurale. Ma perfino nelle città più grandi e popolose una significativa fetta di popolazione non può andare online.
Prendiamo Detroit, dove, secondo i dati della Federal Communications Commission il 40% della popolazione non ha accesso ad internet da casa, e non stiamo parlando solo di connessioni veloci. Il 70% dei bambini in età scolare non ha accesso alla rete da casa. Detroit ha uno dei divari digitali più ampi del paese, dice la FCC.
“Quando pensi a tutti i modi in cui internet influisce sulla nostra vita e di come sia possibile che il 40% degli abitanti di Detroit non abbia l'accesso alla rete, inizi a capire come mai la città è rimasta bloccata per così tanto tempo in questa disparità economica”, mi dice Diana Nucera, direttrice del Detroit Community Technology Project.
La Nucera fa parte di un numero crescente di abitanti di Detroit che hanno avviato un movimento di base per colmare questa lacuna, costruendosi internet da soli. E' una coalizione di membri della comunità e di diverse realtà no-profit. Hanno iniziato coprendo tre quartieri scarsamente serviti, installando internet ad alta velocità che trasmette connessioni condivise da un'antenna posta in cima all'edificio più alto della strada e dentro le case di persone che se ne erano andate da molto tempo. Hanno chiamato il progetto “Equitable Internet Initiative”.
Il problema non riguardava solo i costi, proibitivi per molti abitanti, ma anche le infrastrutture. La Nucera racconta che a causa dei problemi economici della città, molte grandi aziende di telecomunicazione non hanno ritenuto opportuno investire nell'espansione delle proprie reti sul territorio cittadino. La città è piena di cavi in fibra ottica che non sono collegati né a case né ad attività commerciali, una sorta di relitti dei giorni migliori.
Sempre secondo la Nucera, gli abitanti che non possono permettersi internet godono spesso di sussidi cittadini o federali come ad esempio i buoni pasto. L'intero progetto è partito la scorsa estate, con l'arruolamento di amministratori digitali, cittadini di ogni quartiere interessati a far parte di questa coalizione senza scopo di lucro facendo un po' di tutto, dal passaparola all'insegnamento della cultura digitale, passando per l'installazione dei router e per il cablaggio della fibra.
Molte di queste persone non avevano nessuna esperienza tecnica in questo campo, ma dopo un periodo di formazione di 20 settimane sono diventati capaci di installare, risolvere i problemi e gestire interamente una rete. Inoltre stanno ancora puntando a diffondere l'alfabetizzazione digitale, in modo tale che ognuno poi possa realmente possedere una propria rete.
“Vogliamo assicurarci che non ci stiamo limitando ad installare tutte le attrezzature, ma anche educando la comunità”, dice Rita Ramirez, una degli steward che lavora al progetto nel quartiere sud occidentale della città.
Uno dei componenti che i gruppi sono più desiderosi di sviluppare è la rete intranet che deriverà dal collegamento di diversi edifici (circa 50 per ogni quartiere) ad una connessione wireless condivisa. Si stanno incoraggiando i residenti a sfruttare questa intranet e a creare strumenti condivisi come un forum e una rete di comunicazione di emergenza completamente localizzata e sicura.
In una città che si sta ricostruendo dopo un decennio di turbolenze economiche, internet non può più essere un lusso per soli ricchi. Il rinascimento di Detroit non avrà luogo fino a che ogni comunità residente in città non avrà accesso agli strumenti base del lavoro moderno, dell'istruzione, della sanità e della comunicazione. Tutta Detroit (o certamente almeno più del 60% dei suoi abitanti) ha bisogno di un accesso a internet e la struttura attuale imposta dalla grandi compagnie di telecomunicazione non hanno reso tutto ciù un obiettivo facile da raggiungere.
Nucera conclude ricordando che “la comunicazione è un diritto umano fondamentale. Quello che stiamo facendo è giustizia digitale”.
Only one week has elapsed since 2018 and a new tragedy has been written in the massacres list of this republic of death (giving continuity to the blood spilled in the events of Ayotzinapa, Tlatlaya, Arantepakua, Nochixtlán, Ixmiquilpan and a endless more).
Appropriate the chronicle for decipher the truths
Only one week has elapsed since 2018 and a new tragedy has been written in the massacres list of this republic of death (giving continuity to the blood spilled in the events of Ayotzinapa, Tlatlaya, Arantepakua, Nochixtlán, Ixmiquilpan and a endless more).
In the first early morning hours of this Sunday, January 7, inhabitants of the Communal Goods of Cacahuatepec -in the rural area of Acapulco, Guerrero- celebrated a dance in the context of the celebration of the Patron Saint of La Concepción on the court of that community. At the edge of 3 hrs., a young man broke into the command office of the Regional Coordinator of Community Authorities – Community Police (CRAC-PC) to urinate in the building as a form of aggression and provoke the “comunitarios”, so he was detained into the command office for committing that administrative fault. A few moments later, the young man managed to escape through the back door, running towards the place where the celebration was taking place. A group of comunitarios gone out to detain him, but were cowardly received by a group of armed and hooded people who immediately opened fire indiscriminately against them, causing the immediate death of Ulises García Morales -original of the Agua Caliente community- and Eusebio Elasio Martínez -of the community of Huamuchitos-.
The comunitarios who achieved to repel the aggression, resorted to their shotguns to avoid being killed, so a confrontation of a few minutes occurred that ended up taking the lives of 8 people. For what the villagers narrate in their testimonies: “these armed people are linked to the commissioner Florentino Melchor León and the gravel businessmen”, adding to the fact that “they were there as if they were the personal protection or private guard of the aforementioned”.
This, was clearly a planned act with all the purpose to unleash violence with weapons, as well to achieve the liberation of two ex-military retained in the command office since the New Year’s Eve, because -as an infrarealist story- they entered armed in two cars to the Communal Goods with the intention of murdering the CRAC-PC commander, Marco Antonio Suástegui Muñoz.
After a few hours elapsed, approximately at 10 hrs., an operative of the State Police initiated a ‘state of siege’ with more of 200 effectives in the streets of the town to stop ALL the members of the CRAC-PC project by government orders. One hour later, there was another shooting by the operative in front of the Parish of La Concepción and the command office, leaving as aftermath 3 more murdered comunitarios and the arrest of another 30. At the moment, they have been transferred to the Procecution of Justice of Acapulco, where -thanks to immediate photographs of people and solidarity activists- it can be proven State Police have planted them weapons and narcotics, a governmental maneuver already known in cases such as the arrests of the leaders of the self-defense groups (“autodefensas”) in Michoacán and the members of the CRAC-PC but from areas of Tixtla and Ayutla de los Libres in the Costa Chica.
Another point to detail is the attacks suffered by some journalists from Cuartoscuro, Agencia AP and other media during the second shooting. The cops pushed them, beat them and one of them the police snatched their cameras and taken off their SD archive memories . In these facts, the journalist Bernardino Hernández -correspondent in already mentioned media- had to be hospitalized because the lessons received.
During an “Encounter with Media” at noon of that January 7th and chaired by the government’s spokesman on security, Roberto Álvarez Heredia, the facts were distorted, focusing on the reflectors in the well-known strategies of guilt and revictimization to justify the happened massacre.
Social networks are too bullets to avoid
What is the role of the mass media?
In the hegemonic media, much importance has been given to the role of comrade Marco Antonio Suástegui Muñoz, spokesman for the Consejo de Ejidos y Comunidades Opositoras a la Presa La Parota (CECOP) and commander of the CRAC-PC fraction in the zone, under the idea that “he is responsible for everything” what these movements do and decide, when on the contrary, the ethical principles of both social struggles are horizontality, communitarianism and direct democracy -just as their local assemblies are carry out for decision-making.
The Guerrero government has used all the mediatic resources it has had and for having to criminalize the social resistance of ALL PEOPLE that make the CECOP, especially since the year 2013 when the communities made the unanimous decision to join the Community Police due the increasing levels in the threats of those interested in installing the hydroelectric dam -at the moment, legally suspended in favor of the villagers- through the sponsorship of thug groups.
Marco Antonio not only has received accusations to turn him into political prisoner among June 17, 2014 and March 31, 2015; several local businessmen and their families began to defame him on social networks, specifically on the Youtube channel “Desplazados Acapulco”, in which in the most stupid and right-wing way, he is “accused” of promoting the displacement of inhabitants, when the territorial defense that has done along with the CECOP have like main objective THE PRESERVATION OF THE HUMAN LIFE AND THE NATURE IN CACAHUATEPEC .
In this channel a strongly aggressive and violent nuance is used against not only the CECOP, but also against the lawyers and human rights defenders of “Tlachinollan”, the parents, mothers and normalist classmates of Ayotzinapa, as well as the organized teachers in the CNTE (National Coordinator of Education Workers) and the CETEG (State Coordinator of Education Workers of Guerrero).
It’s not a gunmen conflict: It’s the parasitic paramilitarism
It’s not the first time that tears and blood are homologate in the soil of these communities. At noon on Friday, June 9th, 2017, an armed commando riddled without compassion an entire family on the Calle Ceiba. This armed assault provoked the death of three women, a man, a 17-year-old boy and a baby of just four months. The Ministry of Security of Guerrero also reported two minors aged 8 and 11, respectively, and a one-year-old baby were injured .
The incursion of armed groups not legitimized by the villagers and comuneros that give life this territoralization, in sooth took place from March 7th, 2017, so the bells of the organization have touched once again to undertake joint actions and stop the violence that is “commanded from the State government on behalf of a ‘citizen organization’ of armed businessmen.”
As autonomous communication media, in Ruptura Colectiva (RC) we registered the following incidents in March that led to speed up people’s alertness in the face of armed groups: 1) they beat Don “Cheto” from the community of El Rincón until shatter his nose; 2) they shot a resident of Camposanto, wounded him and gave him a “levantón”; 3) in Oaxaquillas they lifted a person, he was beaten and stripped of his money; and 4) they injured a person just for carrying iguanas, arguing that it is a crime, but they do not realize that many people live humbly from that work .
Violence is a pragmatic and logic schem
What is the reason for this permanent climate of violence and internal divisionism? Simple: the logics of EXTRACTIVISTIC CAPITALISM, which in turn generates division in the communities and ‘traditional’ authorities, the formation of armed groups -one, legitimate for the defense of natural resources and people, and others, for the violent intimidation to the detriment of territorial defenders and any opposition action to extractivist projects- and also, the internal decomposition through the increasing of drug sales, extortion and degradation of young people by introducing them to the “world of easy money” (as the main example, we have the young man who started the initial brawl during the early morning hours).
We did not invent this, the proofs are documented:
– On last night Thursday, December 13th, in the community of Agua Caliente, an ex-member of UPOEG (paramilitary group with high presence in Guerrero) named Ezequiel Reyes Morales was arrested. When his backpack was checked, people found a short weapon and a lot of marijuana amounts, so in the interrogation, the aforementioned claimed to engage in the sale and distribution of drugs .
– Only a few days later, on December 17th, 11 more persons were presented before a community assembly accused of car theft, robbery, intrafamily violence, sale and consumption of drugs.
By unanimous decision, those in charge of developing the regulations of the CRAC-PC’s security and justice system to minor offenses, have begun with all these persons a reeducation process to heal the damages at community level for their actions.
It was occurred in the detention of two armed men on New Year is yet more terrorific. In a serie of public testimonies published in daily La Plaza, the exmilitary detainee who responds to name Iván Soriano Leal (Alejandro Liborio López o Guillermo Marín Lopez, because counts with 3 fake identifications) claimed that commissary of La Concepción community, Antonio Morales Marcos, hired him to kill two of his familiars which own several land hectares where it pretends to build parto of the hydroelectric dam “La Parota”, as well to kill Marco Antonio Suástegui.
Today free, this subjetc simbolize all a batallion of hitmen and exmilitary, because the fact of tie off a police operative and cover up a massacre of this magnitude just for release him, it give us the idea about privileges and elite politics position that they posses.
As I have written -and thousands of times- La Parota hydroelectric project represents an enormous booty of profits for the national businessmen class at the cost of the –illegal- dispossession of water, land, air (of the life!) at the Communal Goods of Cacahuatepec, having as its main privilege its location: the tourist empire of Acapulco. This is the crux of everything happened (and the things that could happen if megaproject will not cancel).
With the predatory advance of the multinationals of mining -Guerrero, Puebla, Zacatecas, Chiapas-, wind -Oaxaca-, hydroelectric dams -Morelos, Veracruz- and of transgenic crops -Campeche, Yucatán, Quintana Roo-, as well with the approval of the called Law of Biodiversity, the journey it is easier to plunder the resources of the most vulnerable and forgotten populations, or what I prefer to call “the Acapulco that nobody sees” (or rather, “that nobody wants to see)”.
Sources & critical notes
 “Denuncian periodistas que fueron agredidos por policías estatales. Por: Erick Barrera”, Agencia de Noticias Guerrero, January 7th, 2017. (https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1820665827945884&id=127901443889006&hc_location=ufi)
 “Desplazados Acapulco”, created in July, 2015. (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDR6p64ix9JYBWenHe6wkg...about
 “Grupo paramilitar asesina a 6 personas y deja 3 menores heridos en Cacahuatepec, Guerrero”, Ruptura Colectiva (RC), June 9th, 2017. (http://rupturacolectiva.com/grupo-paramilitar-asesina-a...rero/
 “Preparan resistencia en Cacahuatepec, Guerrero, ante la presencia de grupos paramilitares y despojo del territorio”, Ruptura Colectiva (RC), April 24th, 2017. (http://rupturacolectiva.com/preparan-resistencia-en-cac...orio/
 “Comunitarios de la CRAC-PC detienen a narcomenudista de la UPOEG con un arma y droga en Cacahuatepec, Acapulco”, Ruptura Colectiva (RC), December 19th, 2017. (http://rupturacolectiva.com/comunitarios-de-la-crac-pc-...ulco/
 “Durante el Año Nuevo, comando armado intenta asesinar a activista opositor a proyecto hidroeléctrico en Acapulco; integrantes de la CRAC-PC detuvieron a los agresores“, Ruptura Colectiva (RC), January 1st, 2018. (http://rupturacolectiva.com/durante-el-ano-nuevo-comand...ores/
Originally published in: http://rupturacolectiva.com/the-cacahuatepec-massacre-g...-see/
Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff is a popular book about Trump and his administration. It may be popular because it focuses on Trump's bizarre personal peculiarities rather than the political context and the forces which led to Trump's presidency.
If not the best book on the crazed Trump administration, this is certainly the most popular. Perhaps because it focuses on Donald Trump’s personal peculiarities rather than the political context, it has become a top best seller. It has been criticized because the author, Michael Wolff, says that he sometimes listened to contradictory reports of various events, given by the unreliable members of the administration, and then used his own judgment in integrating these reports into unified accounts. While this may lead us to wonder how accurate his reportage of specific White House events may be, there is no doubt that his overall account is accurate. It fits very well with what we have seen of Trump and his agents as they have acted out in public, in front of cameras and newspaper reporters.
Through his own observations of the president, and through the reports of Trump’s allies, supporters, family members, and minions, Wolff draws a picture of his behavior and personality. Trump is thin-skinned and easily hurt by criticism, desiring always to be liked and admired, yet insensitive to others’ feelings, desires, and needs. He is impulsive, and easily aroused to anger. He is highly distractible, unable to concentrate for extended periods, and readily bored. He has a need to constantly be winning. Women are seen by him as merely sex objects or as aides to his work if they are sufficiently obsequious—but then he sees everyone as objects, useful to him or not.
Trump knows very little and is generally incurious, including about what he should know to manage the presidency. He lies constantly, not necessarily for specific purposes but just for the sake of it. However, he may not know when he is lying, since he lives in a fantasy world of his own making, an alternate reality which is immune to facts. Most of those around him regard him as stupid (although it is hard to say if this is due to limited intelligence or to a personality-based unwillingness to think—or both). “Trump didn’t read. He didn’t really even skim…Some believed that …he was no more than semiliterate….Some thought him dyslexic….He didn’t listen. He preferred to be the person talking.”
(113-4) He develops his views mostly through watching right wing television.
“Rupert Murdoch [was]…certain Trump was a charlatan and a fool.” (19) “The people who knew him best” regarded him as “careless, capricious, disloyal, far beyond any sort of control.” (223) “…Senior staff believed the president had a problem with reality
….” (242) Rex Tillerson, the Secretary of State, called Trump “a fucking moron
.” The Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin regarded him as an “idiot
.” H.R. McMaster called him a “dope.
” (304) All the senior staff belittled Trump’s intelligence, openly or quietly. “Everyone…struggled to express the baldly obvious fact that the president did not know enough, did not know what he didn’t know, did not particularly care, and, to boot, was confident if not serene in his unquestioned certitudes
.” (304) “…Staffers [were] concerned that his ability to stay focused, never great, had notably declined….
These observable traits have led some mental health professionals—and other people who could pick up a psychiatric manual—to diagnose Trump with various personality disorders, even though they have not personally examined him. I am not going to do that, precisely because I am a licensed psychologist (although I would love to see his responses to the Rorschach Inkblots). His publicly observed behavior is terrible enough for us to say that he should not be in office. Trump has responded to these reports by asserting that he is really “a stable genius
Wolff focuses almost entirely on these personal traits of Trump and of those around him. These others are also more or less batty in behavior, the administration being full of crackpots, clowns, ignoramuses, right-wing ideologues, and other strange people. “Few in the thin ranks of Trump’s inner circle….had almost any relevant experience. Nobody had a political background. Nobody had a policy background.
” (25) They pride themselves on being saner and smarter than Trump but cannot keep him from engaging in bizarre and self-destructive behavior.
Besides personal behavior, Wolff looks at the court tensions among Trump courtiers. He observed three main factions: (1) family members, mainly son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka Trump, whom he peculiarly describes as New York “liberal Democrats”; (2) establishment Republicans, who were then represented by Reince Priebus, now fired.The pressure continues from the Republicans who lead in the House and Senate; (3) Steve Bannon, reflecting the extreme nationalist, nativist, right-wing. Bannon has also been let go, and since this book came out (with Bannon’s criticisms of Trump and his family members), has lost much of his influence—at least for now. But others carry the torch, such as Steven Miller, encouraging Trump to stick to his worst anti-immigrant policies. There is also the on-going influence of the ultra-right Mercers, father and daughter, who are described as among the “difficult, even sociopathic, rich people
” pushing their agenda on Trump and his entourage. (177)
Beyond this, there is little consideration of politics or of the political context. These only come up in relation to the personal quirks or cliquish conflicts in the White House. For example, Trump’s decision to withdraw from the international climate treaty is discussed as a victory for Bannon and a defeat for Ivanka, rather than as an attack on the global climate. Trump’s continuation of the war in Afghanistan is considered in relation to his reluctance to make decisions as well as the differences between the generals’ desire to expand the war versus Bannon’s isolationist desire to withdraw.
Wolff downplays the issue of Russian collusion, looking more at Trump’s inept reactions. He speculates that Trump’s resistance to the investigation has mostly to do with the fear that it would uncover various illegal financial shenanigans by the family businesses (which may certainly be one aspect of Trump’s reaction). Trump has “come out of the real estate business; …based on substantial debt…it often…is a preferred exchange currency for problem cash—money laundering.
” (17) “…If the unraveling began [it] would likely lead to the messy Trump (and Kushner) business dealings
However, Wolff does describe the now-notorious meeting of Trump’s people with Russian agents as “one of the most preposterous meetings in modern politics”
(253) and an “imbecilic meeting.” (254) He quotes Bannon as regarding the meeting as “treasonous or unpatriotic
.” (255) Wolff expresses certainty that Donald Jr. would have told his father about it.
Much of what Wolff describes, while not completely new, is still fascinating. However, it is weak as a guide to understanding the political situation. While Wolff may be some sort of liberal, there is nothing in the book that a “Never Trump” Republican would disagree with. Wolff repeatedly describes the mainstream media as the “liberal medi
a.” He accepts the right-wing view that most of the newspapers and television news programs are “liberal,” left versions of Fox News and right-wing radio talk shows. Actually, if we compare the views of really liberal journals (The Nation, Mother Jones, etc.) with most of the press and TV news, the mainstream comes off at least right-center. (The exception is the mildly liberal evening MSNBC shows of Rachel Maddow and others.) Noam Chomsky has demonstrated the pro-capitalist, pro-imperialist, bias of the media, and this has not changed. However, Trump is so bizarre in his behavior and so far to the right that the media cannot report on him without appearing hostile. As has been said, “Reality has a left bias.”
Trumpism is Republicanism
Much of President Trump’s politics and behavior is idiosyncratic, unique to him. His constant lying, bragging, misstatements, and other peculiarities, would not have appeared if other Republicans had been elected president—such as Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, or even Mike Pence His reluctance to criticize Nazis is not a typical Republican attitude. (The U.S. ruling class is not ready for fascism.) The whole Russian imbroglio would not have appeared with any other politician. There are sections of the U.S. capitalist class which are for better relations with Russia (represented by Tillerson, the former head of Exxon). But even these would not have been so in denial about the Russian interference in the U.S. election. Also most of the U.S. capitalist class favors more “free trade” agreements with other countries and a more flexible immigration policy; they want to benefit from cheap labor. On these points they (and their hired politicians) have been in disagreement with Donald Trump.
Yet in many ways, Trumpism is a symptom of the reaction by Republicans and Democrats to deep problems in U.S. and world society. These have caused a drastic turn to the right, to attacks on the working class. There is economic stagnation, increased inequality, and pressures on real profits (as opposed to financial speculation and overvaluation of stocks and bonds).
Basically, Trumpism is an extension of modern Republicanism. The Republican party is the cutting edge of the attack on the working class and the environment. This was pretty clear when virtually all the Republican politicians supported the unpopular Trump tax cut for the very rich. It is also apparent when almost all the Republican Representatives and Senators have doubled down on defending Trump against the Department of Justice investigation. They are attacking the investigators and trying to distract the public.
Big capitalists had not supported Trump in the election and had preferred Clinton. But with his election, there “was a surprising and sudden business and Wall Street affinity for Trump….An anti-regulatory White House and the promise of tax reform outweighed the prospect of disruptive tweeting and other forms of Trump chaos….
” (87) (Note that Wolff uses the pro-business term, “tax reform,” instead of the accurate “big tax cuts for the rich.”)
Some sections of Trump’s popular base have become disillusioned with him, but polls have shown that the rank-and-file of the Republican Party overwhelmingly still supports Trump. (For the general public, he is the most unpopular first year president in the history of polling.) The Republicans have lied to a section of the population (white middle class and upper working class, especially males, in the suburbs and rural areas). These people have responded to real grievances of growing poverty and inequality, de-industrialization, loss of jobs, de-unionization, and rural stagnation—but mostly responded with false and misleading politics, being called on to blame African-Americans, immigrants, Muslims, Mexicans, environmentalists, feminists, and the “liberal elite.” The Republicans have whipped these people up to a nihilistic frenzy of despair. Then the Republican leadership was surprised when this hyped-up mass did not follow their lead but instead voted (in the primaries and in the general election) for the most unqualified person available, since he said what they believed. However, many other Trump voters were not attracted to his overt racism and nativism, but rather voted for him for change and because of a dislike of the Democratic candidate. But even these did not object to Trump’s racism, not enough to reject voting for him.
While the modern Republican Party, as well as Trump himself, leans far to the right, neither it nor he are fascist. Neither Trump nor the party leaders will ban all other political parties, shut down the newspapers, cancel elections, or declare Trump president-for-life. If the system seems increasingly repressive, well, that is what we have in the limited democracy of capitalism. Yet Trump has opened the door for the real fascists, given them a bit of respectability. After the Charlottesville march of Nazis and Klanspeople, “the president’s sympathies were muddled. However easy and obvious it was to condemn white racists…he instinctively resisted…and he continued to be stubborn about not doing it.
The “Lesser Evil” Democrats
If the Republicans were Trump’s “enablers,” as Paul Krugman has suggested, then the Democrats were the enablers of the enablers. After eight years of Barrack Obama’s presidency, there was more inequality than ever and continuing de-industrialization throughout much of the nation. This was even though the economy was in a long, slow, and shallow “recovery” from the Great Recession—which continues now, and will continue until the next crash. A not-very-good health plan was passed. More immigrants were deported than ever before. Climate catastrophe was recognized in words but an ineffectual minimum was done about it. Wars were continued and expanded abroad.
The two-party system encourages a certain type of amoral maneuverer, for whom political programs are not goals to be achieved so much as means to personal success. “A close Trump friend who was also a good Bill Clinton friend found them eerily similar—except that Clinton had a respectable front and Trump did not.
The Democrats ran the most business-as-usual figure they had, Hillary Rodham Clinton. She and her husband Bill had gotten rich in their years of “public service.” She was paid big bucks for speaking at gatherings of the biggest capitalists. She was known as the most hawkish member of the Obama administration. (There were also bad reasons for disliking her, including sheer misogyny, and the way a mountain was made out of a molehill over her emails.) The only reasons for voting for her came down to breaking the gendered presidential glass ceiling and that she was not Trump. These were reasons enough for her to win a thin majority of the popular vote, but then to loose in the archaic Electoral College.
For years the Democrats had been deliberately turning their backs on the unions and the working class in favor of appealing to the professional-managerial middle and upper classes. Thomas Frank had warned that this would have electoral and political costs (Price 2016a). In the event, many white workers and their families who had voted for Obama, now voted for Trump. Many others stayed home. (A little less than half of eligible voters did not vote.) Meanwhile large sections of African-Americans were disaffected; they would not vote for Trump but, again, many who had voted for Obama also stayed home. Latinos knew that Trump was viciously against them, but they also knew that “the Obama administration had been quite aggressive in deporting illegal aliens
.” (63) Many Latinos also sat this one out.
For years the liberals had been opposing the greater political evil by supporting the lesser evil. Sometimes they won and sometimes they lost, but overall the greater evil got more and more evil, and so did the lesser evil. That is, the Republican Party became completely committed to far-right ideology, while the Democratic Party moved to where the “moderate Republicans” used to be. (For example, for a health care program they did not advocate the liberal “single-payer” approach but adopted the program developed by Mitt Romney when he was Massachusetts governor.) In brief, the politics of “lesser evilism” has not worked.
The liberal Warren-Sanders wing of the Democrats has no power. It serves as a shill to bring young people, labor, progressives, African-Americans, feminists, environmentalists, etc., into a party really ruled by corporate politicians such as the Clintons. Liberal Democrats and the MSNBC talking heads like to focus on the issue of Trump’s ties to Russia and his efforts to cover them up. While this is a real issue, it also has the effect of distracting from such U.S. matters as inequality, climate change, or the danger of nuclear war. It makes the Democrats look patriotic and proudly chauvinistic. It lets the liberals wallow in patriotic hypocrisy. The imperialist U.S. state intervened in 81 national elections and supported about 36 attempted military coups, from 1946 to 2000. (McCoy 2017) Who is the U.S. to denounce foreign intervention in elections?
The Republicans can fire up their middle class base. While these people may get out of hand and elect a Trump, they do not threaten the system. But the Democrats never could fire up their historic base of workers and People of Color. The demands of the working class and the oppressed for better standards of living and more public services immediately threaten the profits of the corporate rich. Brought to an extreme, their demands threaten the very basis of capitalism. This is why liberals constantly complain that the Democrats do not stand up to the conservative Republicans, and why the Democrats were so willing to turn away from the working class, the poor, and People of Color, in favor of the professional middle class.
According to Wolff, Trump and his campaigners never expected to get elected; he expected to improve his “brand” while he prepared to claim that he had been cheated. With the election of this accidental president here has been a major increase in popular struggles and movements. (Price 2016b) This includes forming thousands of local anti-Trump clubs, enormous mass demonstrations, and local demonstrations at “town hall” meetings and at airports. At this time, most of the movement has been channeled into electoral activities, electing more Democrats, especially women. Probably this was inevitable for now, but it is a dead end. There needs to be a radical, libertarian-socialist, wing of the anti-Trump movement, which rejects the Democrats in favor of independent, mass, direct action.
Many liberals and Democrats look forward to when Trump is gone (through losing the next presidential election or even being impeached). They think that the evil days will be gone and things will return to “normal.” It is true that the peculiarities of Trump’s behavior will be over. But the crazy right-wing politics of the Republicans will continue. The wishy-washy but pro-corporate capitalist politics of the Democrats will continue. And the underlying economic decay and stagnation and ecological catastrophe will continue. The system will escalate its attacks on the working class and the environment, and, through wars, on people around the world. No part of the political or economic system can be relied on; as with the weather under conditions of global warming, there is a “new normal.” Those of us who believe in ecological sanity, freedom, mutual aid, and radical democracy had better do all we can to build a popular movement for these goals.
McCoy, Alfred W. (2017). In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power.
Price, Wayne (2016a). “Party of Which People? Review of Thomas Frank, Listen, Liberal
Price, Wayne (2016b). “Not My President! The New Resistance.”
Wolff, Michael (2018). Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House
. NY: Henry Holt.
*written for www.Anarkismo.net
Il y a quelque temps, au Saguenay, Michael Labbé, un compagnon Autochtone participant de plusieurs éditions de la Marmite Autogérée, a rendu l’âme au cours de l’incendie tragique de la maison de chambres où il avait trouvé toit.
Il y a quelque temps, au Saguenay, Michael Labbé, un compagnon Autochtone participant de plusieurs éditions de la Marmite Autogérée, a rendu l’âme au cours de l’incendie tragique de la maison de chambres où il avait trouvé toit. De la triste nouvelle, nous trouvions un énième rappel du prix du sang à payer par les plus pauvres et les gagnes-petits dans la Guerre de l’espace que nous livrent spéculateurs et embourgeoiseurs dans les centres-villes. Plus récemment, c’était au tour de la maison de chambres aux conditions les plus difficiles, le « 21 Price », de passer au feu. Le sang et les larmes qui coulent n’ont ému en rien les serviles bonnes gens à la recherche de « bonheurs » individuels. Au spectacle, nous sommes des corps-déchets.
Dans cette Guerre de l’espace qui fait rage, les pauvres doivent s’entasser dans de minuscules logis hors de prix et non-sécuritaires tandis que les bourgeois accumulent tellement de place qu’ils ne trouvent plus rien n’en faire à part de gigantesques stationnements. Depuis plusieurs années, le Collectif anarchiste Emma Goldman et ses allié-e-s cherchent à opposer une résistance dans le centre-ville de Chicoutimi. Sans plus attendre, nous avons cherché à tisser des solidarités et réseauter les actions sous diverses formes. Il y a eu autour d’une dizaine de Marmites Autogérées, événements durant lesquels nous avons occupé des espaces publics pour distribuer des repas, partager des biens inutilisés, partager nos créations, partager nos idées, partager bien plus encore. Nous avons réalisé des journaux et des films pour documenter l’embourgeoisement de la ville et des projections publiques pour que l’on mette ensemble le doigt sur de nombreux problèmes. Durant plus d’un an, nous avons maintenu l’Espace Social Libre, un centre social autogéré ouvert à tous et toutes. Sans financement et sans solliciter les permissions des autorités, nous avons soutenu le développement de formes créatives de résistance et cherché à insuffler un esprit d’auto-organisation dans le quartier. Le Parc du 19 Juillet, un espace au coin des rues Tessier et Jacques-Cartier laissé à l’abandon par la ville, en attente de promoteurs, a aussi été le terrain d’occupations durant plusieurs étés déjà. Dans la Guerre de l’espace, nous avons réquisitionné et aménagé ce parc. Au cours de la prochaine année, nous allons intensifier nos actions pour que le terrain soit cédé de manière permanente pour les usages des habitants et habitantes du quartier. Nous n’oublions pas nos camarades disparu-e-s, nous ne pardonnons pas aux promoteurs crapuleux et leur monde. Les morts vont prendre leur revanche.
Collectif anarchiste Emma Goldman
25 janvier 2018
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